The best essays on starting up by Paul Graham

Paul Graham, best known for co-founding the influential startup accelerator and seed funding program Y Combinator, is also very well known for championing simple and straightforward writing.

1. Crazy New Ideas

Reasonable people will have decent ideas that should not be passed quickly. Craziest ideas if implemented correctly will have the greatest impact. Wisest responses to ideas are questions.

Best lines: “Having new ideas is a lonely business. Only those who’ve tried it know how lonely. These people need your help. And if you help them, you’ll probably learn something in the process.”

2. How to get Startup Ideas

Best ways to look for startup ideas is to look for problems. We need to ensure that the problem really exists. The mistake startups make is to solve a problem that nobody has. This is very long, yet intuitive reading on some of the ways to find ideas.

Best lines: “Live in the future and build what seems interesting. Strange as it sounds, that’s the real recipe.”

3. Frighteningly Ambitious Startup Ideas

Paul shares his take on numerous areas where new, more ambitious startups can be created. Some key inputs are deceptively simple. Do not announce you will change the world, you’ll only raise expectations. Start deceptively small. Don’t identify a future point and work towards it, instead let your work guide you to the goal.

Best lines: “The popular image of the visionary is someone with a clear view of the future, but empirically it may be better to have a blurry one.”

4. Organic Startup Ideas

The best way to come up with startup ideas is to ask yourself the question: what do you wish someone would make for you? Ideas can be of two types: organic (ones that solve a problem for you), inorganic (ones that solve a problem for someone else).

Best lines: “There’s nothing more valuable than an unmet need that is just becoming fixable. If you find something broken that you can fix for a lot of people, you’ve found a gold mine. As with an actual gold mine, you still have to work hard to get the gold out of it. But at least you know where the seam is, and that’s the hard part.”

If you are looking to start up, or have recently started up, these essays by Paul should be a must read in order to get some structure to your ideas.

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